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IMPD's Police Athletic League nearly broke

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 20, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the oldest youth programs in the city of Indianapolis is in danger of extinction.

The Police Athletic League, also known as the PAL Club, is nearing its 75th anniversary. It's also nearly broke.

The PAL Club has mentored nearly 40,000 at-risk youth over its history. It has always emphasized sports programs like baseball, football, basketball and boxing. But it also has an emphasis on gun safety and strong anti-drug and anti-gang messages.

Now, though, the PAL Club no longer has the funds to get its message out.

"At this point in time, the budget is not what we want it to be," said Cpt. Lorenzo Lewis, of IMPD's youth services division. "I don't think there's much left in the fund. We usually work with $70,000. I think we're down to about $5,000."

That's disappointing news for parents like Vidal Cordona, whose 8-year-old son Iran was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. Today, he participates in the PAL Club boxing program at the Christamore House.

"Now he's more energetic," Cordona said. "He wants to do this and that. He's more active and all that."

The PAL Club gives the city's youth a positive relationship with a police officer and an opportunity for youth to see that police are approachable and human too.

"We can't arrest our way out of this," Lewis said. "And while we do need more officers on the beats, we need to balance and have officers address the social issues we've got."

Police Chief Troy Riggs and Mayor Joe Hogsett have vowed not to let the PAL Club fade away.

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